Wales politics

Nominations close for Plaid Cymru leadership election

Nominations for the Plaid Cymru leadership are closing with four candidates in the running.

Assembly members Simon Thomas, Lord Elis-Thomas, Leanne Wood and Elin Jones have put their names forward.

Current leader Ieuan Wyn Jones is standing down after a disappointing result for the party at last year's assembly election.

Nominations close at midnight on Thursday. The new leader will be elected on 15 March.

Mr Jones' successor will take the reins before Plaid's spring conference in Cardiff.

Mid and West Wales AM Mr Thomas is a former MP and was an adviser to the cabinet in the former Labour-Plaid coalition government.

"I'm talking about the issues that I think the party should be talking about, which is jobs and making ourselves less dependent," he said.

Lord Elis-Thomas, also a former MP, led the party in the 1980s and served as the assembly's presiding officer for 12 years.

Industrial heartlands

He said he was inspired to stand by the success of his Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency at last year's election "and that there was an opportunity for us to take that message throughout Wales".

South Wales Central AM Ms Wood, whose campaign has been boosted by the backing of prominent former Plaid MP Adam Price, said Plaid needed a breakthrough in Wales' industrial heartlands to become the biggest party in the assembly.

"I think I'm able to speak to people in order to do that," she said.

Ceredigion AM Miss Jones was the rural affairs minister in the previous assembly government.

She said she was "ambitious" for the future of her party, adding: "I want to see us break out of our comfort zones and talk to the people of Wales."

'Close race'

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales, Gareth Wyn Jones, a local Plaid councillor and mayor of Llanfairfechan in Conwy, said he believed the party needed a strong "figurehead".

"I think Plaid needs an Alex Salmond [First Minister of Scotland], to be honest with you," he said.

"That key person - the whole of Scotland got behind him. That's the type of person that we want as a figurehead to look up to.

"You can do a lot of things but if you have that one person standing there and everyone can look up to them, I think it makes a big big difference."

He added: "We have to be more things to more people".

Plaid party member Haf Roberts, from Cardiff, said she believed the contest was going to be a "close race".

"We have four very competent politicians, a wide range of experience but four different personalities really," she said.

"What we need is someone to instil confidence. We need somebody who can reach to a wide range of members and also to show that commitment."

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